NC State College of Education Educational Psychology Program

Program Spotlight: Educational Psychology

Faculty with the NC State College of Education are transforming the field of educational psychology through unique conceptual and methodological approaches to the study of race and culture, with focuses on school climate, issues related to student engagement and motivation and cross-disciplinary applications of the work beyond educational psychology.

Studying How Racial Issues Impact Belonging and Motivation

DeLeon Gray: ‘The Concept of Belonging is So Fundamentally Human It Has the Potential of Serving as the Connective Tissue Among All of Us'

Title: Associate Professor
Ph.D.: The Ohio State University
Research: Belonging and motivation
Through his research, DeLeon Gray, Ph.D., is helping students to feel a sense of belonging in school and inspiring teachers to grow their knowledge by pursuing advanced degrees.

Christy Byrd: ‘When You’re Learning About Yourself at School, That Makes School Seem Relevant to Your Life’

Title: Assistant Professor
Ph.D.: University of Michigan
Research: School climate for diversity and its impact on academic success
After developing and validating the School Climate for Diversity Scale, Christy Byrd has been studying the relationship between school climate and students' racial identity.

Jessica DeCuir-Gunby: ‘I Thought it Was Really Great that We Were Able to Provide a Tool for So Many People’

Title: Head of Department of Teacher Education and Learning Sciences, Professor
Ph.D.: University of Georgia
Research: Race and racial identity, research methods and emotions in education
As a graduate student, many suggested to Jessica DeCuir-Gunby, Ph.D., that studying Black students' experiences with race and racism would be difficult. Now, her work on the subject has been cited thousands of times.

"NC State's Educational Psychology program is unique in that it has the most professors I have ever seen in Educational Psychology addressing issues like motivation from a racial and cultural perspective. Having access to a variety of Black professors was also important to me because representation matters for me as a Black graduate student. "

- Joanna Ali '24PHD
Doctoral Student in the Educational Psychology Program

Our Research


Active NSF-funded Projects


in Active Grant Funding

Bringing an International Perspective to Educational Psychology

John Nietfeld: ‘It’s Hard to Explain All the Things You Gain from Interactions with All These Different People'

Title: Professor
Ph.D.: University of Nebraska
Research: Self-regulated learning and metacognition
With almost as many international collaborators as domestic ones, John Nietfeld, Ph.D., brings an international approach to his work in metacognition and has inspired several international students to come to NC State.

Margareta Thomson: ‘Providing Students with Opportunities in Various Aspects of Global Learning is a Great Benefit for Them’

Title: Professor
Ph.D.: Florida State University
Research: Motivations and beliefs and student and teacher development, particularly as it relates to STEM areas
From her work with North Carolina educators to her time as a Fulbright Scholar in Romania, Margareta Thomson has been committed to understanding how to motivate teachers and students.


Nationally Recognized Faculty

Over the past few years, faculty in the College of Education’s Educational Psychology program have received several honors and awards including:

  • University Faculty Scholar
  • Fulbright Scholar
  • Educational Psychologist’s Best Article of the Year
  • Outstanding Research Award (NC State Alumni Association)
  • Outstanding Educator Award (University of Georgia)

"The unique focus on race and culture in the Educational Psychology program has allowed me to utilize a critical approach to address how structural inequity and psychological constructs such as gendered racial identity influence the invisibility of Black girls in science and engineering. With an increased focus on girls and minoritized populations in STEM education, this will allow me to develop new pedagogical tools and create bridges to diversify the STEM field throughout my career."

- Whitney McCoy '20PHD
Graduate of the Educational Psychology Program and Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Virginia